What is a Foundation Apprenticeship?

There’s the technical answer…

Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) are work-based qualifications for secondary school pupils. They provide S5 pupils with the opportunity to develop their skills, experience, and knowledge in a live business environment, at the same time as gaining an industry-recognised qualification set at SCQF Level 6 (the same level of learning as a Higher).

Then there’s the real answer…

FAs are open to all S5 pupils at all high schools in Fife. They allow you to:

  • Learn the skills you need for the future
  • Work on real, work-based projects
  • Open up your options after school
  • Make your college and UCAS applications stand out from the crowd

All while still at high school!

The best of both worlds

Fife College works in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Fife Council, and local employers to make sure that Fife benefits from a fantastic, full range of Foundation Apprenticeships.

This earlier exposure to the world of work helps you develop the skills, experience, and knowledge you’ll need when they leave school – and you’ll still gain the qualifications you need for your CV and applications.

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How does it work?

Where will I study?

Foundation Apprenticeships are delivered in specialist learning environments. In the second year of the course, you will also gain hands-on experience with an employer through an Industry Challenge Project to learn valuable employment skills and behaviours.

How long does it take?

this will be different for each apprentice depending on your chosen FA subject and which school you attend.

You may study at your own high school, another high school in Fife, or at a Fife College campus. It could even be a combination of these three options. We can also guarantee you will be on work

placement for several days and over several weeks, particularly in year 2 of your FA which will add to the variety, value, and excitement of your learning experience!

It normally takes two years to complete an FA, so it will be part of your study timetable in years S4 and S5 or S5 and S6. Your school timetable will include two half days per week for your FA. You may also be expected to undertake part or all of your work placement during school holidays (e.g. October, Easter, or summer).

During the two years you will spend time doing various activities which may include:

  • Attending practical workshops, computer labs, or science labs
  • Visiting local businesses or organisations for a morning or afternoon
  • Attending talks or presentations from local employers
  • Work placement of several days and weeks, particularly in year 2 of your FA
  • Having fun whilst learning new and exciting skills and meeting new friends

How do the exams work?

The FA has no big exam in May/June each year like National 5s or Highers. Instead, you will be assessed on an ongoing basis. Your teacher/assessor will advise you of planned assessments by providing you with a schedule of work, what format the assessment will take, what timescale you have, what you will be expected to do, and the format of your submission.

The frequency, size, and type of assessment will vary for each FA. There are many different ways for your teacher or assessor to confirm what you know (to test your knowledge and understanding) and what you can do (to test your understanding and skills).

What you will find in the workplace is that assessment is often fun and very practical – just like when faced with challenges and problems to solve in the real world of work, as your work placement is the real world you are working in with a real employer!

Will it cost me?

No – all travel expenses, uniform, and safety equipment/clothing is provided for your FA.

What can I study as a Foundation Apprenticeship?

Gives you the chance to develop the skills and knowledge to enter a career in the accounting, finance, and business sectors.

Business Skills

Gives you the chance to develop the skills and knowledge to enter a career in the many business sectors of today’s economy.

Civil Engineering
Made up of National Certificate: Civil Engineering, selected SVQ units, and the Industry Challenge Project work placement, you will gain invaluable work experience whilst undertaking a Vocational Qualification (VQ).

Creative and Digital Media
Offers an introduction to the wide range of skills and knowledge that align to many employment opportunities across the creative industries sector.


Aims to give you the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge to enter into a career in engineering and the advanced manufacturing sector, or other engineering related industries.

Food and Drink Technologies

Gives you the chance to develop the skills and knowledge needed to enter a career in the food and drink industry.

Information Technology: Hardware/System Support

Covers a wide range of hardware and system support digital skills essential in today’s IT industry.

Information Technology: Software Development

Software development is behind every app you use, every computer game you play, databases, virtual reality, robotics – and much more. Plus, the ICT and digital technologies industry just keeps growing.

Scientific Technologies (Lab Skills)

Allows you to gain a vocational qualification that combines specific sector skills in a work based context alongside the underpinning knowledge to support the skills.

Social Services: Children and Young People

Gives you the ideal foundation to be part of the social services sector for young people.

Social Services and Healthcare

Allows you as a future social services worker to provide support and help to people who need it, helping them to live full and valued lives in the community.

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What would I do next?

After completing your Foundation Apprenticeship, a range of progression routes are available at Fife College in the subject area relevant to your FA. We accept your FA to support entry onto a range of HNC and HND courses. Full information can be found in our Foundation Apprenticeship section.

FAs are accepted by universities as part of their entry requirements. For full details, check out apprenticeships.scot.

An FA could also provide accelerated entry to a Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme – where completing the FA first will mean it takes less time to complete the MA.

An FA could help you into employment – with both your FA qualification and work placement on your CV. You will also gain many transferable skills on your FA, and having the work placement, is of great value for any job or career path you choose to follow – not only those relating directly to your FA. So you will also be able to think wider and pursue an area you enjoy and are good at!

FA applications are open!

Apply now